Our weekly roundup of news from East Asia curates the industry’s most important developments.
Hong Kong regulators FOMO amid SEC Bitcoin Spot ETF approval
Hong Kong Legislative Council Member Johnny Ng wants the Special Administrative Region (SAR) of China to accelerate the approval of local Bitcoin Spot ETFs following in the footsteps of the U.S. this week. Ng noted the Securities & Futures Commission (SFC) had previously stated it was ready to accept applications for Bitcoin ETFs:
“I hope that with the rapid development and high competition of virtual assets, Hong Kong can seize a seat in the world as soon as possible. This will be the first opportunity to implement relevant policies and products in Asia and consolidate Hong Kong’s opportunity to become a global center for virtual assets.”
Ng also spoke of the need to “strengthen popular education on virtual assets” to enhance awareness and mitigate scams. Hong Kong has experienced the biggest financial scams in its history last year with the collapse of unlicensed crypto exchanges JPEX and Hounax.
In a separate interview on January 10, Livio Weng, COO of HashKey Group, disclosed that 10 financial services firms are currently preparing applications for a Bitcoin Spot ETF listing in Hong Kong. The SFC greenlighted pathways for the approval of such applications in December 2023. Bitcoin Futures ETFs, including one issued by Samsung, have been around on Hong Kong exchanges for some time.
Wemix’s rollercoaster start to 2024
South Korean gaming giant Wemix has had quite the roller-coaster start to 2024.
On January 9, developers of the $2.65 billion Wemix blockchain said they would halt block minting rewards by Q1 2024. Currently, WEMIX tokens possess an inflation rate of 3.15% per annum. Instead of new token emissions, they will instead incentivize ecosystem protocols using WEMIX tokens already held by the foundation’s digital wallets. Combined with a token burn mechanism for gas fees spent on the protocol, Wemix says that the new move will transform the network into a deflationary blockchain:
“To further solidify the fundamentals and practical aspects of WEMIX tokenomics, the foundation has decided to discontinue block minting rewards. This effectively means that the total supply of WEMIX will either remain fixed or be reduced from the block height in which the discontinuation of block minting rewards is implemented.”
Developers claim the new incentive model can be sustained for “approximately 20 years.” Wemade, the parent entity of Wemix, is the creator of the popular Legend of Mir series and has claimed that Mir 4, released in 2021, was the most successful blockchain game at the time.
In an unrelated development, Wemade disclosed on January 3 that it owed 53.7 billion won ($41 million) in taxes to South Korean authorities related to the issuance of Wemix tokens from 2019 to 2022. Wemade explained that the tax would be paid by the deadline of February 29.
In November 2022, Wemix tokensplunged by 70%in a single day after multiple Korean exchange delistings, amid accusations the firm provided “false information” in response to an investment warning it was issued.
“The WEMIX team does not acknowledge or agree with the unreasonable decision made by the Digital Asset eXchange Alliance (DAXA),” developers wrote in response to the delistings at the time. Initial coin offerings are currently prohibited in South Korea, although some attempts have been made for legislative reform.
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Thailand approves $14 billion airdrop
Thai government officials have approved a 500 billion baht ($14 billion) digital wallet scheme.
According to local news reports on January 9, Thailand will finance the airdrop with a series of loans prescribed under the 2018 State Fiscal and Financial Discipline Act to stimulate the struggling economy.
Previously, Thailand’s ruling Pheu Thai party said it would consult the Bank of Thailand in developing a “utility type 1” token necessary for the airdrop. The solution will require Know Your Customer blockchain-based infrastructure that sources say will take at least six months to roll out. A 100 baht fee will also be charged per user for the KYC process.
Under the proposed scheme, Thai nationals will receive up to 10,000 baht ($284) each via airdrop. However, restrictions apply to the use of funds. Individuals must spend the tokens within six months and only on goods and services within a 4km radius of their residence. In addition, the tokens cannot be sold for cash or used for debt repayment.
The move follows real estate tycoon and crypto advocate Srettha Thavisin’s election victory on August 22, 2023. In 2021, Sansiri participated in a $225 million raise for a crypto-friendly investment management firm XSpring Capital, which then launched a cryptocurrency trading platform, XSpring, in 2022.
Bank of China seeks blockchain patent
Major Chinese state-owned bank, Bank of China, has applied for a patent titled “SDK [Software Development Kit] update method, device and computer equipment based on blockchain.” According to filings with the State Intellectual Property Office and local news reports, patent CN117369845A pertains to:
“The server obtains the description information when the SDK is generated, stores the description information in the blockchain, and when detecting changes in the SDK, determines the change information of the SDK, stores the change information in the blockchain, and can also provide such info to SDK customers.”
An SDK is a set of tools that allow developers to build software for a particular platform. The technology in the patent potentially allows developers to automatically update their SDKs as new patches are rolled out without any human intervention. The Bank of China has long experimented with blockchain technologies, with the latest being facilitating a $14M cross-border e-CNY gold purchase in Shanghai last month.
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Zhiyuan Sun is a journalist at Cointelegraph focusing on technology-related news. He has several years of experience writing for major financial media outlets such as The Motley Fool, Nasdaq.com and Seeking Alpha.